How helping people back to dignified work goes beyond just finding a job
How his Catholic Charities journey begins:
Davis* has had four different jobs in the last seven months. Only one paid more than the Missouri minimum wage of $7.85. Davis grew up in a small farm town in the southwest corner of the state, where he learned to work hard. But temptation at an early age lured him to try to take a shortcut one time, ending in a felony conviction that cost him 10 years of his life. That mistake so many years ago still haunts him in many ways, not the least of which is by making it nearly impossible to get a good job, sometimes even an interview for a job. Last month, Davis responded to a flier he saw for a Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph job fair, hoping to find an employer who would be willing to look past his incarceration record and see the man he had become.
* Names and some details have been changed to protect anonymity.
The impact we made last year:
Our data shows that when the average person walks in the door seeking service at Catholic Charities, his average income is about $704 per month. After participation in our employment service activities, whether it be in our Employment Services Program or within another program in the agency, that average monthly income increases to $1849 – an increase of 162 percent!
Our success in our Employment Services program is attributed to several critical pieces. We offer a robust menu of services and activities which matches the person’s readiness level for change. Such activities and services include:
- One-on-one coaching
- Basic job skills workshops
- Resume building
- Assisted job search
- Financial literacy
- Case management
- Customer service training
- Retention services
- Emergency assistance for job related activities such as job interviews or transportation to and from work.
Service components are delivered in a way that allows them to think of their employment in a different light. People may ask themselves questions such as:
- What does it mean to have earned income and not just benefit income?
- How would I feel to be a part of something bigger than myself?
- What if I could truly believe that my abilities are valuable and needed in the workforce?
- Would the sense of self-worth and dignity one is provided through work activities make my life matter again?
These are concepts we introduce to people–often for the first time–that are a key to successful employment.
Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph has a long history of working with individuals like Davis who may be difficult to employ. They may be ex-offenders recently released from prison, an older adult re-entering the workforce, or as mentioned in last month’s e-newsletter, those who are entrenched in generational poverty and have never been exposed to a positive, self-sufficient role model.
In fiscal year 2018, this was the impact we made:
- 591 individuals participated in Employment Services
- 121 individuals participated in financial literacy or individual development accounts
- 49 individuals participated in Customer Service Training.
- 582 individuals received one-on-one financial coaching sessions aimed to increase their household financial stability.
Of those participating in employment services…
- 55 percent were ex-offenders
- 24 percent were 55 years or older
- 20 percent were veterans.
We understand we are most impactful to our community when we work in collaboration with other agencies, organizations and companies. September’s job fair for UPS, promoted in this e-newsletter, in which Catholic Charities was a collaborative partner, yielded 101 new jobs for our community. In addition, Catholic Charities offers on-site job interviews by companies we work with who are looking for qualified employee candidates. In fiscal year 2018, the agency confirmed employment placement of 186 individuals.
For the people we serve and lift like Davis, the 162 percent average increase in income our Employment Services efforts yields is often just the beginning of a road back to the dignity of a life reinvigorated with new-found meaning.